The perky String of Bananas (Senecio radicans) is a cheeky and cheerful addition, fresh and fruity to any home or office.
But what if those juicy string of bananas look a little glum? When they start to dry out, what should you do?
Dehydration is the primary cause of the string of bananas drying out. Drying leaves are also a result of high temperatures, poor soil, and poor light quality. Relocate the plant to an area with plenty of indirect light, water only when the top 1-2 inches of soil are dry, and use well-draining soil.
Why Is My String of Bananas Drying Out?
Lack of Water Makes the Succulent Shriveled
Because many people believe that applying small amounts of water is the best strategy, it’s easy to mistreat these desert experts. However, the String of Bananas requires some water to thrive.
Less watering leads to shallow roots, and the String of Bananas can never maintain good hydration due to low water volumes.
So instead, it uses the reserves stored in its leaves, causing them to dry out and shrink.
Overheating Causes More Water Loss
While not as fussy as its cousin, the String of Pearls, a String of Bananas, limits how much light and heat it can withstand.
Temperatures between 70°F and 80°F (21°C and 27°C) are ideal for String of Bananas.
However, prolonged exposure can be dangerous even though it can withstand a slight temperature change.
Even a well-watered String of Bananas will have to use the water stored in its leaves and stems if it wants to survive.
Direct Sunlight Dries Leaves
The string of Bananas is a tropical ground creeper. They’ve evolved to deal with a lot of light, thanks to natural selection. More is better, as long as it’s at least six hours of bright, indirect sunlight every day.
The plant will have difficulty producing enough energy to keep it alive in a dimly lit environment. As a result, it will eventually die out.
If your plant gets too much direct sunlight, especially at noon, its leaves will dry out and shrivel.
Overheating and dehydration are inevitable when exposed to direct sunlight, which also contains harmful ultraviolet light that causes the leaves’ cells to be destroyed.
Read this article to learn how much light your string of bananas needs.
Inappropriate Growing Medium
The String of Bananas thrives on a highly draining mix, but some materials are simply too dry. In doing so, they rob the plant of its moisture, resulting in its dehydration.
They can be helpful when mixed with soils, but they aren’t the best option when used independently.
They don’t hold any water, heat up quickly, and dry out roots, sometimes causing the poor plant to disappear entirely from its root systems.
On the other hand, an excessively moist growing medium is as bad. As a result, the roots of plants grown in organic-rich mediums will become overly wet and prone to disease.
In addition, dehydration may result from root rot and root system damage, which can occur due to these factors.
It doesn’t matter how much water you put in the String of Bananas if the roots aren’t working correctly. In soils that are dripping, the poor plant will dey out.
Compacted Growing Medium
During prolonged periods of dehydration, the plant’s medium becomes compacted. As a result, the medium hardens into a brick-like mass as it dries.
This is especially true for mediums that lack organic material, like those commonly used for cacti and succulents.
Once the medium has been compacted, it can no longer hold any water. It closes in on the roots and prevents them from receiving any moisture.
Regardless of how much water you put in the pot, the plant is still dehydrated.
How Do You Fix Dried Out String of Bananas?
Step 1: Assess the Damage
Observe your String of Bananas from top to bottom, from left to right. The first step is to inspect each string individually for loose or shriveled leaves.
Inspect the medium you’re using to grow your plants next. Is it hard and compacted or loose and free-flowing?
Both of these issues will necessitate a separate course of action.
Step 2: Soak If Appropriate
Give the String of Bananas an excellent soak to loosen things up if your medium has hardened. Here’s how to go about it:
- Place your pot in a vessel that is at least as tall as the plant.
- Fill the vessel to the brim with water, ensuring the water does not spill over the sides.
- Please make sure the plant has had at least 30 minutes to soak in the water before moving it. You’ll notice the growing medium darken and swell as it progresses. Depending on the pot’s capacity, you may need to add water to keep the water level near the top.
- Remove the plant from its saucer and allow it to dry before putting it back in the water ultimately.
- Keep an eye on the pot and empty the saucer if there is any more drainage.
After you’ve soaked the soil, I recommend poking holes in it with a chopstick or small trowel and gently moving the damp soil around.
This is an excellent method for completely rehydrating your String of Bananas.
In addition to revitalizing and loosening a compacted growing medium, it also delivers moisture deep into the root mass, where it is most needed.
As a result, it’s an excellent one-time treatment for a struggling plant.
Step 3: Trim Away Dead Matter
Give your plant at least 24 hours to fully benefit from the deep watering before assessing the harm it has sustained.
Then, it’s time to trim after the plant has had a chance to soak up some water in its leaves and stems.
Cutaway any dead matter with a clean pair of shears or scissors. Remove any strings that feel brittle or leaves that are completely colorless.
It’s safe to remove dead or dying leaves at this point, even if they’ve been given plenty of water.
Step 4: Re-pot In Fresh Soil
The string of Bananas may not work with your medium if it is worn out, old, or otherwise unsuitable. It’s not uncommon for big-box stores to sell plants in subpar growing mediums, so assess and replace them.
After a deep watering, if the growing medium doesn’t loosen well or is crumbly, loamy, or poorly draining, it’s time for new soil.
It’s also time to get rid of any medium that smells sour or musty. This holds even if the material is inorganic, such as perlite or sandy stones.
I make my growing medium by combining one-third quality potting soil, one-third coarse sand, and one-third perlite.
In addition, I sprinkle in a small amount of fine gravel to help with drainage and give the soil the proper texture.
This mix provides excellent drainage without the risk of drying out the roots or hardening them, making it ideal for pots.
If you don’t want to mix your own, a standard cactus mix will do just fine for you. This one available on Amazon is my favorite.
For your String of Bananas, use a pot roughly the same size as the original. Having a pot that’s too deep will only encourage water to pool at the bottom, making it impossible for the roots to spread out and grow.
Step 5: Move to An Appropriately Lit Spot
A String of Bananas indoors adores light. The more, the merrier! In the chillier morning hours, a few hours of direct sunlight is enough for them, but they require 6 to 8 hours of bright, indirect light each day to function correctly.
A window with a southern or eastern exposure works best. Ensure your plant is not in direct sunlight during the hottest part of the day, especially at noon.
This can cause heat stress and severely dry out your poor String of Bananas.
Step 6: Water Regularly
To keep succulents like the String of Bananas hydrated, I recommend using the “soak and drain” method.
Allow the growing medium to drain entirely after soaking it. Next, let it dry completely before watering it again.
This most closely resembles the South African desert environment where these plants originated.
Long-term hydration is much more effective with this method, and it also prevents soil compaction by distributing water uniformly across the soil’s surface.
It’s best to water the String of Bananas only when the medium has dried out. In the summer, you will need to water more frequently, and you will need to water less frequently in the winter.
With proper monitoring and watering only when necessary, you can avoid drowning your plant’s roots and keep it well-hydrated.
Step 7: Feed
Consider adding a diluted dose of high-quality, balanced liquid fertilizer to your watering schedule to help the String of Bananas regrow its lost leaves.
That’s a very efficient method of getting your plants precisely what they need to thrive. (You can see Amazon’s prices here)
Why Is My String of Bananas Shriveling?
Dehydration, overheating, or too much light can cause banana plants to wilt.
These vigorous plants require 6-8 hours of bright indirect sunlight each day and a watering schedule that alternates deep watering with short intervals of dryness.
With these conditions met, your happy little creeper will be back to its plump and juicy best.